The Demand Solutions Blog

Donald Davidoff

Recent Posts

Are Short-Term Rentals The Pet Rent of 2020?

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Oct 15, 2019 4:10:33 PM

 
“What about the liability?”

“What about noise complaints from neighbors?”

“What about the extra costs involved?”

“It will totally change the character of our community, and we don’t want that!”

To anyone who’s been involved in talking about short-term rentals (STRs), the above looks very familiar, right? They’re the most common concerns about the risks (and hassles) involved with allowing residents to sublease their apartments on short-term rental platforms.

Except that’s not where I first heard these concerns. Back in the late 1990s, hardly any apartment communities allowed pets, particularly dogs and cats, in their apartments. When I asked why not, I usually heard the same four objections.

Yet a few intrepid pioneers, sensing the growing importance of pets as part of their prospective residents’ lives, took a risk and started allowing pets.

I remember visiting one of those in the early ‘00s, Archstone South Market, at the edge of the financial district in San Francisco. I was touring and noticed there seemed to be a lot of dogs. So I asked the community manager whether that was true or it was just me thinking it was.

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Topics: property management, Change Management, Short-Term Rentals

Why Price Optimization Doesn't Happen Without Tension

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Sep 24, 2019 4:31:43 PM

Do your community and regional property managers have such a great relationship with their pricing and revenue managers that there is no sense of tension at all? They never escalate an issue because they always agree? If you answered “yes” to either or both questions, then you are likely leaving money on the table.

At first blush, that probably sounds provocative at best and just flat out wrong at worst. Admittedly, in most situations, leaders strive to remove tension in the relationships that exist between co-workers who collaborate to create business success. However, pricing and revenue management (PRM) is different.

Lately, we’ve been writing a lot about PRM capabilities as well as pricing strategy, but even if both are perfect, the nature of inter-departmental relations still has a heavy influence on performance.  In my thirty years of experience in PRM (20 of that in multi-family housing PRM), I have found that a lack of tension almost always indicates one of two situations. Both are bad for maximizing revenue:

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Topics: property management, pricing and revenue management

What Santa Claus Can Teach Us About Pricing Math

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Sep 4, 2019 10:02:57 AM

I’m looking forward to the upcoming Maximize revenue and asset management conference September 23-24 in Atlanta. Kicking off the conference late morning on the 23rd, I’ll be presenting another session in a series of deep dives into the math behind pricing and revenue management (PRM).

This presentation series started a few years ago. I had observed that while conferences were including multifamily housing PRM content, they studiously avoided any math or equations in the presentations. I thought that this was severely limiting - restricting sessions to only “beginner” level material. Math lies at the heart of all PRM systems and software, so its omission from conferences felt like a significant oversight. 

I started by running a session at Maximize a few years ago that was designed for advanced PRM practitioners, sharing the stage with my colleagues and good friends Annie Laurie McCulloh and Rick Hughes. I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of the people who attended the session were not those directly responsible for pricing. And I was even more delighted to find that they found the session valuable. My favorite quote of feedback was, “I’m not sure I understood all of it, but I’m really glad there are people in the business thinking about this stuff!”

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Topics: pricing and revenue management

The 5 Top Attributes for Successful Revenue Managers

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Aug 6, 2019 8:18:00 AM

Pricing and Revenue Management (PRM) has been in mass-adoption in multifamily for more than a decade.  During that time, an industry talent pool has developed around the core technologies that companies use to manage pricing.  The systems are sophisticated, enabling better decision-making and returns at companies that have been successful in incorporating them into their business processes.

Yet our experience tells us that some companies integrate PRM systems and processes into their businesses more effectively than others. While companies may use the same PRM software, many don't get the same returns as other companies that use it. Much depends on the human skills that companies deploy to ensure that the system is configured and operating in the way that it should be.

Given our depth of talent and experience in PRM, clients frequently ask us what they should look for in a good pricing and revenue manager.  Our industry often places a heavy emphasis on multifamily experience when recruiting new associates, often for reasons.  However, there are compelling reasons to apply different rules to PRM recruits (the discipline of PRM came from different industries, like hospitality and airlines, after all). While awareness of multifamily operations can undoubtedly be helpful, it honestly is not the most important qualification for a successful revenue manager.

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Topics: multi-family housing, pricing and revenue management, business intelligence, Multifamily Trends

7 Reasons Why There Ain’t Nothing Like a Downturn

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Jul 30, 2019 12:07:11 PM

A few weeks ago, I wrote about some of the core skills of Pricing and Revenue Management (PRM) and how those skills have diminished in the industry talent pool during the last decade. As I explained - using Warren Buffett’s playful metaphor about tides and skinny-dipping - it’s relatively easy to deliver growth in a generally growing market. Skillful, difference-making PRM professionals are adept in delivering upside even in less favorable market conditions.

Nobody likes downturns, but having been in multifamily PRM for more than 20 years, I can attest to the stress-test that they impose on PRM capabilities and practitioners. If your pricing managers haven’t been pricing for at least 10 years, then they have never dealt with a softening market. That’s true whether they’re internal employees, associates of your third-party fee manager or serve on the staff on a pricing services team that is offered by your pricing software vendor.

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Topics: multi-family housing, Multifamily Trends, Future

7 Ways to Tell if Your Revenue Manager is Skinny Dipping

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Jul 24, 2019 8:36:00 AM

One of the challenges with pricing and revenue management (PRM) being more than 18 years old is that most of the pioneers in designing and developing the software are no longer involved. In some cases, companies are on their 3rd or even 4th generation of associate (this holds for both software vendors’ and operators’ teams).

The result is that we often no longer have a healthy skepticism that drives deep knowledge of both the software’s capability and the ways various parts of the demand management ecosystem (all the policies, procedures and other activities that affect demand) affect how we should use the software.

After a decade of growth in the multifamily sector - when it's been relatively easy to deliver upside - senior operators might ask how much of their growth comes from proficiency in PRM, and how much from riding the market.  As Warren Buffett famously said, “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who's been swimming naked.”

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Topics: Pricing, Revenue Management, Demand Management

3 Reasons Multifamily Pricing Needs an Ownership Mentality

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Jul 16, 2019 1:30:33 PM

It’s been more than 18 years since the first property went live on the first automated pricing and revenue management (PRM) system in multifamily housing. What started as a niche product and function (only about a half dozen companies were using PRM software in early 2006 (six years into the “PRM revolution”) is now embraced by owner/operators and fee managers alike. Virtually all of the NMHC top 50 use automated solutions, and we estimate close to 50% of all professionally managed multifamily housing companies use a revenue management system.

In my time watching PRM mature from an early start-up stage to widespread acceptance, I’ve seen many models of PRM support evolve. Broadly, I put them into two camps: those whose pricing managers behave as if they own the communities and those who serve in a more subordinate role to owners or operators.

In the case of the former, PRM and property management are co-equals and collaborate as such in executing a strategy. Of course, being co-equal has its challenges, the most obvious of which is coming to a decision when both parties authentically disagree; if they’re co-equal, then who casts the metaphorical deciding vote?

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Topics: Pricing, property management, pricing and revenue management

9 Take-Aways from NAA Apartmentalize 2019

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Jul 10, 2019 2:54:43 PM

A little over a week ago, 10,000+ apartment industry colleagues descended upon our hometown of Denver, Colorado for NAA’s annual Apartmentalize conference. Along with entertaining keynote speakers and many different dinners and parties, there was an excellent program of education, networking and one-on-one meetings. Here are a few highlights from what we saw and heard:

1. Despite political uncertainty (and even a few economic concerns), the industry is still very much a confident group of people. With annual rent growth still above the long-term trend, we continue to enjoy the longest bull run in the modern rental housing industry’s history. Perhaps the best implication of this is that the run is now so long, we no longer hear baseball references around “what inning” we are in 😊

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Topics: pricing and revenue management, Multifamily Trends, Technology, Short-Term Rentals

NAA Apartmentalize - A Long View on Short Term Rentals

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Jun 11, 2019 2:41:36 PM

In just a couple of weeks, I’ll be joined by industry veterans Melanie French, Steve Hallsey and Marcie Williams as I moderate a panel, “A Long View on Short-term Rentals” at NAA’s Apartmentalize conference.  I’m excited to further the conversation about a subject that is top-of-mind in our industry.

I still remember four or five years ago when Jaja Jackson from AirBnB first presented to an NMHC conference. To say the reception was a bit cold would be like saying the Pope is a bit Catholic. The Q&A session was one of the most aggressive I’ve ever seen; and when I spoke up to opine that I viewed short-term rentals (STRs) as just another demand stream to be understood and leveraged, I could feel the metaphorical daggers hurled my way by the vast majority of the audience.

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Topics: property management, NAA Conference, Short-Term Rentals

3 Steps to Avoiding Pricing Complacency

Posted by Donald Davidoff on May 29, 2019 1:13:12 PM

The legendary golfer, Jack Nicklaus is often quoted as saying, "Complacency is a continuous struggle that we all have to fight." We have frequently argued on this blog and elsewhere that the decade of growth has blunted many of the tools that have delivered success and shareholder value in our industry over the last couple of decades. Rising tides lift all boats, and when growth is all-but-guaranteed, competitive capabilities atrophy.

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Topics: pricing and revenue management, Multifamily Trends, Technology